Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Chemistry  

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

The department has it's very own Equality, Diversity and Equality Committee (EDI). The committee meets quarterly to discuss how best to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for staff and students.

At present, the committee is working towards Athena SWAN, we hope to get the Silver Award on our next submission.  

Athena SWAN Committee 2017
Our happy Athena SWAN SAT Team (not all members present).

left to right, back to front: Eva, Senio, Tracey, Dewi, Lorena, Mike, Helen and Jadranka.

The Law

The following information should be viewed as an indicative guide to the Equality Act 2010. This is not a comprehensive guide to the Act, more an overview of the main points in relation to key equality strands.

Equality Act 2010

The aim of the Equality Act 2010 is to 'harmonise discrimination law, and to strengthen the law to support progress on equality' The Act has replaced all existing equality legislation, including the Equal Pay Act.

Protected characteristics

The following are classed as 'protected characteristics' in equality law:


The law defines a disabled person as "someone with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day to day activities". The definition is quite broad and includes, among other conditions, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain disorders, cancer and long term mental health conditions.

Gender reassignment

Gender reassignment is defined as 'a process which is undertaken under medical supervision for the purpose of reassigning a person's sex by changing physiological or other characteristics of sex, and includes any part of such a process'. It is sometimes referred to as a 'sex change', though this term is now considered offensive to many members of the transgender community.


It is unlawful to discriminate against someone on grounds of their: race (e.g. whether they are Caribbean or Asian), their colour (e.g. whether they are black or white), nationality (e.g. whether they are Bangladeshi or Nigerian), their national origin (e.g. whether they are Welsh or Kurdish) or their ethnic origin (e.g. whether they are Jewish). 

Religion and Belief

Discrimination law covers any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief, but does not cover political belief or cults. Minority religions are treated with the same consideration and respect as more prominent religions. There is no exhaustive definition of these beliefs, but in a recent legal case it was determined that in order to be protected by law it must 'cogent, serious and worthy of respect in a democratic society'. There has been a tribunal case where a belief in man-made climate change met this threshold.


The Equality Act recognises sex as a protected characteristic that protects men (being a man) and women (being a woman). Pregnancy and maternity and gender re-assignment are now separate protected characteristics.

Sexual orientation

The term describes whether an individual is attracted towards people of the same sex (heterosexual), opposite sex (gay/lesbian) or both sexes (bisexual). It is not necessary to disclose sexual orientation when bringing a claim and an individual can bring a claim if they are discriminated against on the basis that if they are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual regardless of whether they actually are.

Key concepts

These legal concepts are the backbone of equality law and are consistent across the protected characteristics. An in-depth knowledge of the law is not required in most situations. For more advice on the law or to arrange a training session for your department contact equalities@ucl.ac.uk

Direct discrimination

Person A discriminates against person B on the grounds of a protected characteristic. A treats B less favourably than s/he treats or would treat other people on the grounds of a protected characteristic.


'I'm not employing her because she might get pregnant' (direct sex discrimination)

Indirect discrimination

Person A discriminates against person B, if A applies to B a provision, criterion or practice which s/he applies or would apply to everyone, but:

  • which puts or would put people of the same group as B at a particular disadvantage when compared with other people or;
  • which puts B at a disadvantage and;
  • which A or the organisation cannot show to be a 'proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'

Example: 'We are proud that all our staff are required to have university degrees, even the junior administrators' (indirect race discrimination)


If a person is treated less favourably after they have brought, or given evidence in a case of discrimination, this is unlawful.

Example: 'I lost some of my responsibilities after I made a complaint about the sexist banter in the office'


A person subjects another to harassment where s/he engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of:

(a) violating that other person's dignity, or

(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her/him.

For more information visit UCL's staff anti-harassment website

Discrimination by association

This is when an individual is discriminated due to their association with another person on the grounds of a protected characteristic. For example, an individual may be subjected to harassment by their colleagues because they need to take time off to look after their disabled child. The harassment is on the basis of their child's disability not the individual's.

Positive Action

The 2010 Act permits employers to take measures designed to redress imbalances and counteract the effects of past discrimination. This is known in the law as 'positive action' and is designed to ensure that people from previously underrepresented groups can compete on equal terms with other applicants.

Employers can encourage job applications from underrepresented groups by the use of positive action statements in job adverts. It is UCL policy to do this. Appointments must be made entirely on merit, though if the situation arises that there are two equally strong candidates at interview the post can be offered to the person from an underrepresented group.

Employers can also provide training or mentoring only for a particular group, if in the preceding 12 months there were no persons from that group doing the work, or their number is small in comparison with those employed in the rest of the organisation, or in comparison with the population from which the employer normally recruits.

Reasonable adjustments

The adaptations made in the workplace to enable a disabled person to work. These can include specialist equipment, a change to the hours or location of work or a reallocation of duties. The 'reasonable' test takes into account several factors such as cost, impact on other team members, the nature of the work and space.

Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR)

An employer is allowed, when recruiting for a post, to treat job applicants differently if possessing a particular characteristic is a genuine requirement for that post. For example, it would be reasonable to require that a counsellor for female students who had experienced sexual harassment was female.

Dignity at Work

UCL's Dignity at Work policy and support provision is one of the most comprehensive in the sector. For many years UCL has developed a strong network of trained anti-harassment advisers and there is robust policy in place to ensure that harassment and bullying are not tolerated in the workplace or in study.

LGBT Allies Statement from Senior Management Team

Prof Ivan P. Parkin…

"I fully support the aims of the Friends of Out@UCL campaign. I have personal experience of the need for such a campaign and the difficulties that the LGBTQ+ community face. Two close family members are members of this community. One who helped in part to bring me up was in a same-sex relationship for more than 45 years and faced extreme discrimination because her sexual orientation was not accepted by society - especially in the 1970's. The other has recently entered a same-sex relationship.  I firmly believe that all people should be treated the same no matter who they are - everyone deserves respect and understanding and no one form of love is superior to another".

Professor Ivan Parkin 

Dean, UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences


Departmental Equal Opportunity Liaison Officer (DEOLO's)

Our departments DEOLO is Nicola Phillips.  

A DEOLO mainly acts as a source of advice to staff and students. 

Mental Health Support

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental ill health can strike at any time and can affect people from all walks of life. We know that 1 in 4 British adults will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives.

Here in the department we have a dedicated Mental Health First Aider who is able to approach, assess and assist someone who might be experiencing a mental health issue and encourage them to the support they need to recover.

Mental Health First Aid…

Support Groups 

Disability Network

Enable@UCL is a staff network open to any staff at UCL with disabilities and those with an interest in Disability Equality at UCL. It enables disabled staff to get to know each other, make professional alliances, offer peer support, share information and join in social events. Its founding members recognised that in an organisation as big as UCL, it can be difficult to get to know people in other departments, particularly other disabled people.

Click here to view the leaflet with more information on the network.

To join the network visit: http://www.mailinglists.ucl.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/enable

Black & Minority Ethnic Groups Network

For Staff 


An email network for BME staff has been created so that members can communicate virtually and share information about events, publications and news stories. Sign up to the network here.

For students

UCLU has a black and minority ethnic (BME) students' network, chaired by the elected full-time officer. For more information please visit: https://uclu.org/BMENetwork or email the BMESO ( bmeso@uclu.org )

LGBTQ+ Network

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equalities and Advisory Group (LEAG) has its origins in a staff network set-up in 2009.  The staff network, Out@UCL, was initially established as a networking group to allow staff who identified as LGBTQ to meet other staff within the UCL community with an aim to make LGBTQ equality a reality at UCL. After a series of networking events to publicise the existence of the group, we established a formalised steering committee, LEAG. 

UCL’s LGBTQ Equality Advisory Group is open to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer staff and those interested in promoting LGBTQ equality at UCL.

Members of LEAG are happy speak to members of the UCL community who would like informal advice or support. Please also see information on key contacts for LGBTQ staff facing issues at work/study.

Read more about membership and expectations of members, the group's activites and the responsibilities of the co-chairs and the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team in supporting the group here.

Parents & Carers Together Network

Parents and Carers Together (PACT) is a social network that aims to support UCL staff members who are balancing ongoing caring responsibilities with work. It is a peer support group led by network members for members so new ideas and activities are always welcomed and encouraged.

Click here to view the leaflet with more information on the network.

To join the network visit: http://mailinglists.ucl.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/pact

PACT Network…

Further information

UCL's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion website - Here you will be able to find information on issues relating to race, gender, religion and belief, sexual orientation, and disability amongst other equalities initiatives at UCL.